Sculpture honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King unveiled in Boston

BOSTON — A group of Bostonians had a dream.

It was to build a memorial to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King in the city where the two civil rights leaders started their life together.

On Friday the world will get to see that vision when an enormous bronze sculpture called the Embrace will officially be unveiled on Boston Common.

“It’s certainly Boston’s Statue of Liberty,” said Imari Paris Jeffries, the executive director of Embrace Boston, the group which is overseeing the installation of the sculpture.

The massive piece of public art is meant to transform downtown Boston visually – and spiritually.

“It will be one of the main attractions in our city,” said Paris Jeffries. “The Embrace is two stories high. Two and half stories wide. The plaza is four stories wide. It’s the largest American made bronze statue in the country.”

Right now, the top of the sculpture peaks over fencing on Boston Common.

“What it is, is thinking about how Boston becomes the city on the hill for racial equity, thinking about our 400th birthday in 2030,” added Paris Jeffries.

The inspiration for the design of the Embrace is a photo of the Kings hugging after Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize.

126 proposals for a monument were submitted. The Embrace is the only one that included Mrs. King and recognized her commitment to racial equity long after her husband was killed.

Paris Jeffries compares Mrs. King to an essential worker. “She was the heart of the movement, but her story was never told. We were only talking about Dr. King and never Mrs. King and so it was a proposal that really elevated Mrs. King’s place in history, a place that she’s long deserved.”

Hank Willis Thomas is the artist who conceptualized the Embrace. He said it’s been an unreal experience to even be mentioned in the same conversation as these “incredible icons.”

“More than anything, we wanted to remind everyone who sees it that love over rules and that by embracing others . . . there’s magic that happens that can really make the bonds that weave our country together stronger.”

Paris Jeffries hopes the memorial will be a catalyst for real conversations and serve as a reminder of how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go.

“I think that’s one of the things that I hope we keep in our hearts, the power of humanity, and so it’s not only a memorial that honors the Kings, and those leaders, but it’s an aspiration for us.”

As part of the dedication, 65 plaques will be unveiled, honoring the contributions Bostonians made to the civil rights movement.

Embrace Boston already has a follow up project in mind. They’d like to build a cultural arts center in Roxbury.

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